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“Cruel Romance” Review: How could they do this? WHY did they do this?!


...such pretty colours lol...

Overall review:

An emotionally-investing rollercoaster ride that only lived up to my expectations too soon…and ended with the ride stopping 2/3 in, leaving me hanging upside down with no way out.

Hey everyone and yes, I know what you are all thinking…WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN HYUNNIE?!

Trust me, that super long and boring excuse will be expressed later on in the future but for now, let us focus on the review at hand – “Cruel Romance” (otherwise, I will literally just rant and go off-track for ages -_-”).

So, about this drama…I take back some of what I said before…towards the end of this precious drama, the drama embarked on a path in which I was dreading to follow, and as I knew from my personal experience with dramas, this sudden change in activity usually never ends well.

And what do you know? It didn’t.

Oh believe me, the drama drew out the feels and emotions that they were so determined to drain out of me, but if I placed my emotions aside and viewed the drama solely based on its plot, then I can’t help but see all of the plot holes rise to the surface. It is as a fellow commenter on  the drama stated “Even a toddler can see all of the plot holes this drama is filled with”, or something roughly similar. Which is a really huge shame, since there was so much potential. But of course, one main reason why this drama became so bad by the end of it, was because it had cut out a potential 4-8 episodes from its original expected broadcast.

4 episodes! That is almost 3 hours worth of content cut out. If it followed it’s 8 episode broadcast, that could have been a possible 6 hours worth of content.  6 HOURS! No wonder so much was missing and the plot didn’t flow well at all towards its race to the finish. It is really disappointing to know that this drama could have covered and explained so much more, it really is. But, what ended up happening was just a pile of mess that just couldn’t be resolved. I am just so frustrated the way this drama concluded…so bear with me if this review ends up turning into a rant of some sort; I just need a place to express this “betrayal” that I feel. *

(Update made after watching the newer Jiang Xi Version)

…Adding 4 episodes didn’t make any difference, plot-wise.

None whatsoever.

I mean sure, there were roughly 3-4 scenes added that really drove my fangirl feels for our main couple but in terms of a progressive plot, nope. Nothing changed it dramatically.

Nothing at all.

And it’s just made me even more disappointed about this drama; before watching the newer version, I could of just convinced myself that they cut out all of the important bits therefore the drama didn’t progress well. However, after seeing that only a couple of scenes (which I guess were worth showing btw) were added that did nothing to change or push the plot forward, I just felt betrayed and hopeful for nothing.

Writers, I hate you guys so much right now. So much….

*Sigh* Let’s finish this, I guess.


Damn...they look so gorgeous in this poster~

Name: Cruel Romance (锦绣缘 华丽冒险)

Broadcast Dates: March 3rd 2015 to March 26th 2015 [Hunan airing period]

Number of Episodes: 40

Note: Marathoned the first 20 episodes over 3 days, and then followed the drama daily afterwards

Synopsis (as written in my current trek post):

Cruel Romance is an adaptation of the 2001 Republican-era novel “The Fate of Jin Xiu”, which tells the story of Rong Jin Xiu (Joe Chen) who travels to Shanghai in search for why her entire family was murdered. Along the way, she becomes deeply embroiled with triad leader Zuo Zhen (Huang Xiao Ming) and the two fall in love. However, their romance is tested when others eye for Jin-Xiu, like Xiang Ying Dong (Qiao Ren Liang) who is both a businessman and close friend to Zuo Zhen starts to become attracted to her too. Ultimately, Zuo Zhen’s efforts to protect his woman from any other man pays when Maeda Ryuichi (Qi Ji), a villainous Japanese man, tries to finish off the remaining members of the Rong family.

Initial Impressions:

So, this post already exists. Just check out in my ‘current trek’ post. Just a warning up front, I go a bit detailed about the main lead’s characterisation, so if you want to go and watch this drama without much info, then I suggest just reading whatever I wrote before it (if you don’t want to know too much though, then why are you here, right? lol)

Opinions on the drama:

So…what to say?? First off, I need to applaud on the production team on this project, in some areas but certainly not all. In terms of production, it is evident that the quality of the drama reflects how much effort they must have placed on the project, which gave us some nice shots along with some pretty outstanding acting. However, a downside to it all was certainly how the drama fell apart towards the last ⅓ of the drama, both in characterisation and progression of plot.

Now, don’t misunderstand. I don’t take back what I said in my ‘current trek’ post, but there is certainly a lot that needs to be added about the drama from where I left off. By the time I finished posting that entry, much had changed in the drama. Especially by the 30-32 ep point, as the plot gradually went downhill, making every action taken by each character questionable. I am serious about this, because what was going on was that anything that happened at times, seemed so out-of-character, to the point where it almost seemed unnatural.

The Positives:

Alright, time for some more happier parts! Although this drama had its flaws and plot holes towards its ending run, the drama still had its moments, thankfully!

1. The quality of the acting is really top-notch

In my personal opinion, I believe that the casting of this drama was truly great. Huang Xiao Ming really fitted in his role as Zuo Zhen/Er Yie, and Joe likewise suits the part as Jin Xiu too. As I’ve mentioned before, the chemistry between the two protagonists is great, and their progress in terms of their romance is quite believable. They have numerous sweet and adorable moments, as well as heated and sizzling interactions that keeps us on our toes and made us hold our breath at times. They just seemed click with each other, both on screen and in the stills that they shot. Wow, even before watching the drama, I was hooked by how simply breathtaking some of these pictures were. I mean, just look at them below!!!

*sigh* If only a man like that could stare at me with those 'electrifying' eyes

*sigh* He is so swoon-worthy~

This is possibly one of my favourite pictures taken of our main OTP Zuo Zhen and Jin Xiu. The colours, the filter and the outfits...simply flawless

As I have mentioned before, this is possibly one of my favourite pictures taken of our main OTP Zuo Zhen and Jin Xiu.

I realise that many might just say that the two leads are just simply photogenic, since they are some of the biggest names in the Chinese acting industry. But, in my opinion I feel that this is not the case at all. In fact, I will certainly rebuttal your point and make sure to state that they are indeed actors and actresses with some definite talent in acting, and they have certainly proven that in this production. Apart from our two main leads, our supporting cast is also very up-to-par with their acting skills and abilities. I felt that Ming Zhu was a very well-played character, who was so multi-faceted and truly had her own personal battles unlike any other character in the entire cast. Along with her is definitely the fine man himself, Mr Xiang (Xiang Xian Sheng, not Xiang Yin Dong), who I personally felt was a really solid character in both acting and the writing of the character. He just seemed as if he was filled with no flaws; a man that any woman would dream of having – the looks (if you’re into that certain age group I guess), the fortune and the care and love towards the people most closest to him.

The only nit-picky thing I might state is in regards to Xiang Yin Dong’s character. Perhaps it’s because I am horribly biased towards our main couple (Zuo Zhen/Jin Xiu ship forever!) but, didn’t Kim’s acting seem kind of awkward at times? Whether it was on purpose (as in, it was written in his character to be like that) or by accident (like seriously, there were just some scenes that got me giving that “huh?!” sort of look) I can never be certain, but it definitely took me by surprise at certain times, and for most it wasn’t exactly a good sort of reaction. But, apart from his character, the rest didn’t seem to bother me too much; in most cases, I’m having trouble trying to conclude anyone’s acting as negative.

Yeah, I kinda gave that sort of glance towards my screen rofl

Yeah, I kinda gave those sort of glances towards my screen rofl

2. Character development exists in this drama!

You may be surprised at how rarely I see proper character development nowadays, and by that I mean legitimate “it makes sense that that person is like that now” sort of character development. In most cases, some characters change randomly, or without much progression during the course of the drama. However, there are certain characters who do show that journey of character development.

The main example of this was definitely Zuo Zhen. A cold-hearted, self-driven and very expressionless man finally opens up his heart for the love of his life *sigh* How romantic~ However, despite how cliche this description may seem, I totally bought it. Throughout the course of the drama, there are certain moments that seem so precious to us as the audience, since we know for certain that the Zuo Zhen before meeting Jin Xiu would never even consider doing such actions for someone else. Every time I saw those sort of scenes, my heart just warmed up and I squealed in glee (seriously, I literally did, no joke!) because they were just so sweet and cute 🙂 Perhaps it was because Huang Xiao Ming was doing them…Pfft, whatever lol!

When did holding a lunchbox while standing still look so good?!

When did holding a lunchbox while standing stationary look so good?!

Many others had some great character development as well (Ming Zhu, Jin Xiu etc), but Zuo Zhen was certainly the one that really stood out for me. I am really happy that the writers took some time to flesh out his character, and really allow us to become attached to this man, regardless of what was happening. Some people may complain that he kinda stole the spotlight for Jin Xiu considering this was a drama mainly based on her experiences however, I ain’t complain. To be honest, Zuo Zhen’s character is 10 times more interesting than Jin Xiu’s, simply because he had layers upon layers of character worth discovering. I’m sure that the drama wasn’t able to cover all bases but if the drama was able to, I’m certain that more would have been learnt about him, possibly making the drama way more interesting.

3. Production quality was evidently great

I’m sure some people will comment about the production being of not that great, or that it can’t compare to how the Korean industry does their dramas blah blah blah. However, from my own experience with Chinese dramas, this drama is considered a considerably mid-to-high production. Surprising, I know, but if you’re like me and have seen your fair share of C-dramas, this one overall wasn’t too bad. Costuming was absolutely fantastic, and the overall vibe (in terms of setting) really felt realistic and true to how the 1930s must have been like in Shanghai. Makeup at times was a little meh (there is a certain scene towards the end of the drama where I just go “Dear god, what the hell have they done to you Xiao Ming-ge?!”) but overall quite nice and natural-looking. There have been certain dramas where I go “Seriously?” towards certain makeup looks, for example having the females wear eye-enlarging contacts while they are in the ancient-dynasty eras. Come on, are you serious? Eye-enlarging contacts?! *sigh* I know it’s pretty and all, but you really are you trying to make me feel like I’m in that era or not?!

Sometimes, some productions just try too hard to the point of overkill *sigh*

Sometimes, some productions just try too hard almost to the point of overkill *sigh*

Anyway, overall the production quality was quite good, along with the cast and certain sections of writing involving character development!

The Negatives:

The downhill of the drama starting from the remaining quarter was due to numerous reasons.

I mean, it was going so well…

I don’t feel comfortable about pointing a finger at anyone and blaming them about how the drama ended on such a poor note, however I can’t help but mention how disappointed I am on how the drama gradually concluded. The drama, sadly, was too rushed towards the end and wasn’t edited well enough to maintain the strong and solid opening it had initially. The visuals were never an issue, nor was the quality of production (as I’ve mentioned before in my previous post) however, the main letdown was the lack of cohesion between the plot and characters, or rather the plot in general. Towards the end, for some reason, character development did not equate to progression of plot, and vice versa. And proper screen-time equaled flashbacks…really? What the hell?!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     That was honestly what frustrated me most, which was why I was so determined to wait and watch another airing of the drama (the Jiang Xi version), hoping that something or anything new could appear and erase all of that wasted time on repeatedly played flashbacks. However, the number of flashbacks in the revisioned-version of the drama never decreased. In fact, every single one of them remained.

Every. single. one.

It was at this moment where I couldn’t help but relate to DeerDrama’s frustration about how this drama became like this. Honestly, how and why did this happen?!

Yep, that's what I would be doing if I ever met any of the production crew in person lol

Yep, that’s exactly what I would be doing if I ever met any of the production crew in person lol

Originally, I would have just blamed it on the fact that so much had to be cut out due to restrained broadcasting times however, after watching the Jiang Xi version, I’m just convinced myself that whoever edited those last bloody few episodes deserves to have their job terminated or something. Honestly, what a joke those last episodes were. The betrayal that I felt really left me scarred. It disappointed me so badly that it literally left me in a drama slump for a month. A WHOLE MONTH PEOPLE! I was just not motivated to watch anything after that, especially another drama.

Initially, this drama seemed great as character development and the flow of the plot seemed almost too good to be true. However, once we got to a certain turning point within the drama between our main OTP, everything just went haywire. I became that common circumstance where none of the characters said anything specific, and the conversations were just vague, leading to huge misunderstandings that just dragged on and on. I know I know, they need a conflict however, it didn’t need to be this way. Multiple conflicts with conclusive resolutions are certainly more preferable than just one small problem blown out of control. Rather than the conflict seeming dramatic, it just looked as if the writers had ran out of ways to split our couple apart. It’s really saddening to see the drama fall into that trap, like many others have in the past. It is just so cliched and makes absolutely no sense according to their characters or personalities.

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT! Do not read this certain section if you don’t want to be spoiled about the specific conflict I referred to above.

I can’t help but mention about this part in the drama, because this was what kinda ruined for me. I mean, there are conflicts that may seem ridiculous at times, but they surprisingly convince me to buy it. However with this one, it was really difficult for me to follow Jin Xiu’s mindset and agree with her actions. It is because honestly, throughout the course of the drama, it was so evident how much she trusts this man who she loves unconditionally with her heart. How she could even begin to doubt him so easily just blows my mind. I can’t even start to fathom what was going through Jin Xiu’s head when she heard that Zuo Zhen was the man who murdered her family, and believed it without question. I mean, seriously, what the hell?! Honey, why would you not just simply ask him directly “Hey love, did you seriously kill my parents or was the super-creepy-stalker guy lying to me?!” What made you doubt the love of your life’s words over literally a statement made by a stranger? How does that make any sense to someone with even the basic amount of common sense? *pfft* I’ve got no clue how she could have doubted the trust of Zuo Zhen but yeah, it happened and I just got really really frustrated at her. Not only that, but a simple conversation somehow just dragged on for a handful of angsty episodes, leading nowhere close to a resolution of my liking. *sigh* I really tried guys, I really did. I tried so so hard to forgive this drama and let it slide, but enough was enough; the damage was already done.


Final Rating:

Here is only just a small section of the main cast, and it isn't even the complete love pentagon/hexagon...whatever!

So overall, this drama initially provided me with some great content that I was really craving to see from any drama: a swoon-worthy male lead, great character development along with a fairly interesting plot to keep me interested. However the drama let me down towards the end as its momentum gradually decreased, heading towards an unsatisfactory ending for my heart. Although I was so happy with the beginning half of the drama, the second half was such a letdown that it overall ruined the experience for me. And it didn’t help that I had watched it a second time with even higher expectations.

Borrowing the rating system from the lovely goddesses of Kdrama reviews themselves Javabeans and Girlfriday, I would rate “Cruel Romance” as:

How much I liked it: 4/10

How good was it objectively: 3.5/10

Alright, thank you so much again for sticking around to check out this review. I’m sure that many may refute my rating for this drama (especially since how much I raved about it in my current trek post), and may even harass for it but seriously guys, this drama was overall a really horrible experience, ruined by how the remaining half of the drama ended. It was all caused by such unnecessary high expectations, along with a huge unexpected let-down towards the end of the whole run. I mean, when you’ve invested over 2 whole months into one drama with the expectations of it leaving you happy and grateful for the experience, only to be betrayed and left even more disappointed in life than ever before, you can’t really blame me for judging this so badly. If there is anyone who wants to share their opinions with me about this drama, leave a comment below so that we can discuss anything further.

Thanks again everyone for reading, and stick around in the coming future for my first impressions on “The Scholar Who Walks The Night” (Lee Joon Gi kya~~~) which will hopefully be posted up before the next 2 episodes come out!

Love you all and see ya soon!

❤ Yami Hyunnie ^^~


Author: Hyunnie

Hello~~ ^^ I'm a young blogger opening her first ever blog in order to share to the world reviews on some of the best and worst Asian dramas, movies, music; you name it! I am also currently guest-posting on Dramafever News. Mainly, I post about dramas on that site so if you are interested, check me out there! Please fill free to comment on this site and maybe suggest some stuff for me to talk about ^^ Hope you guys enjoy and see you later!

2 thoughts on ““Cruel Romance” Review: How could they do this? WHY did they do this?!

  1. Little dongsaeng…I so agree with you! I gauged my ratings for the first 30 ep and then try to forget most of the 30s. Can I say, even at the end, I couldn’t forgive Jin Xiu! To doubt the man that loved her so much that he was beat/stabbed/shot in protecting her and even after witnessing some of the things that Maeda did (the fault doesn’t even lie with him), she believed him unabashedly, I was ashamed of her womanhood!! Not to spoil but her careless and cruel speaking of the events in reference to their loss….I’m going to stop now, my ire is returning! So, I don’t understand why the writers took this route. I thought the two had enough angst in the beginning and what happens in the 30s was unnecessary and really ruined the enjoyment; but needless to say, this drama reaffirmed my love for the acting of HXM and CJ and added a new love for QJ (watch Cuo Dian Yuan Yang to cool the sting if you haven’t already). Thankfully other dramas made me happy but this still was a good drama in spite of the writer’s momentary madness in ep 31-36! Yes, I still don’t forgive JX!! Great write-up!!

    • Unni~~ thank you for agreeing with me!!! There was so much I could have added on that negative section, but I worried that I would probably get out of control and end up just straight ranting by that point. And yes, it was honestly hard for me to forgive Jin Xiu, even when everything was finished. It didn’t make any sense why her character became that way, and why she treated Zuo Zhen in such a manner.

      And yeah, I just ended up liking HXM even more through this drama and understood that he really really suits this sort of character; Angelababy is one lucky lady! Thanks again unni for commenting, and I hope that our next dramas won’t be as disappointing >_< ❤

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